US Secret Service suspends officers over involvement with fake agents

The suspended officers had been assigned to first lady Jill Biden's protection detail

A Secret Service agent at the White House on the south lawn. It is their duty to protect the President and his family, among others.  AFP

The US Secret Service said on Thursday it had suspended several agents over their involvement with two men who were arrested for posing as federal officers.

According to an affidavit filed in a Washington court, the two men arrested on Wednesday, Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36, had offered gifts to a member of the security detail for first lady Jill Biden as well as other Secret Service agents.

Living in a Washington apartment building where numerous federal security-related employees live, Mr Taherzadeh also provided several Secret Service and Homeland Security employees with rent-free units costing as much as $4,000 a month, according to the affidavit.

Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali lived at the Crossing Apartments in Washington near the Capitol building.

Mr Taherzadeh and Mr Ali convinced some of those agents that they themselves were special investigating officers of the Department of Homeland Security, and displayed uniforms and documents which supported those claims.

The two men's motive was unclear, but at one point they recruited another person to work for them and assigned him “to conduct research on an individual that provided support to the Department of Defence and intelligence community".

Mr Taherzadeh also offered a $2,000 assault rifle to the Secret Service agent who worked on Ms Biden's team.

According to the court filing, four Secret Service agents were suspended over the case.

“All personnel involved in this matter are on administrative leave and are restricted from accessing Secret Service facilities, equipment, and systems,” the Secret Service said in a statement.

What lay behind the case remained a mystery — were the two simply law enforcement “wannabes" or were they part of a foreign plot to infiltrate the White House?

The court affidavit said Mr Taherzadeh and Mr Ali appeared to control several units in the Washington apartment building, and that it was heavily populated by employees of several law enforcement agencies.

Like many in law enforcement, the two drove large black GMC SUVs with emergency lights.

Mr Taherzadeh had access to the building's entire security system and had numerous security cameras in his main apartment.

He carried handguns that are used by US federal law enforcement, and demonstrated to others that he had secure access to what appeared to be Homeland Security computer systems.

The Washington Crossing Apartments features a luxurious indoor spa.
Updated: April 07, 2022, 3:54 PM
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